genre of funeral eulogy”
and illumine the mystery of Christian death
in the light of the risen Christ.
The Eucharistic Sacrifice.
When the celebration takes place in
church, the Eucharist is the heart of the Paschal reality of Christian
In the Eucharist, the Church expresses her efficacious commun
ion with the departed: offering to the Father in the Holy Spirit the sacrifice
of the death and resurrection of Christ, she asks to purify his child of his
sins and their consequences, and to admit him to the Paschal fullness of
the table of the Kingdom.
It is by the Eucharist thus celebrated that the
community of the faithful, especially the family of the deceased, learn to
live in communion with the one who “has fallen asleep in the Lord,” by
communicating in the Body of Christ of which he is a living member and,
then, by praying for him and with him.
to the deceased is his final “commendation to God” by
the Church. It is “the last farewell by which the Christian community
greets one of its members before his body is brought to its tomb.”
Byzantine tradition expresses this by the kiss of farewell to the deceased:
By this final greeting “we sing for his departure from this
life and separation from us, but also because there is a
communion and a reunion. For even dead, we are not at all
separated from one another, because we all run the same
course and we will find one another again in the same place.
We shall never be separated, for we live for Christ, and now
we are united with Christ as we go toward him . . . we shall
all be together in Christ.”
193 St. Simeon of Thessalonica,
De ordine sepulturæ.
336: PG 155, 684.